Broward News

Cash for Clunkers? Disaster-Prone Biotech Founder May Get $350,000 From Palm Beach Gardens

Frederick Sancilio's streak of bad luck looks like it's about to change. A founder of a Wilmington, North Carolina, company called aaiPharma, Sancilio watched from his seat on the board of directors as his company's chief operating officer was busted for fraud in 2004. And even after Sancilio assumed his former role of CEO, he couldn't save the company from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2005. He was part of a $7.6 million settlement in 2007.

So Sancilio is lugging quite a bit of baggage to tonight's meeting of the Palm Beach Gardens City Council. But a $350,000 economic development loan would sure lighten his load. He hopes to pair that with the $350,000 loan that Jupiter's Town Council guaranteed, then spend it on building Sancilio & Co., based in Riviera Beach.

It's all detailed in this South Florida Business Journal piece from June 26, by Bill Frogameni, who appears to have done a good deal more homework on the transaction than the officials putting their citizens' money in Sancilio's hands.

Palm Beach Gardens officials voted to draft an agreement to provide a direct loan to Sancilio without having learned of the aaiParma mess -- they entrusted that responsibility to Andrew Duffell, recruiter for the Palm Beach County Business Development Board, who told the Biz Journal that the topic didn't really come up.

OK, but Jupiter must have vetted him, right? Nope; officials told the Biz Journal that even though they're on the hook for the $350,000 loan, they trusted the bank to do the due diligence on Sancilio.

Palm Beach Gardens Mayor Joe Russo told the paper he's studied Sancilio's past in greater detail since June and is prepared to cast an informed vote, rather than the uninformed one he gave a few months ago. So does that make you feel better, Palm Beach Gardens taxpayers?

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Thomas Francis